Minnesota Author Biographies.

Robert Bly

Robert Bly

"Snow Geese" from Selected Poems (1986) by Robert Bly

The dark geese treading blowing Dakota snows
Over the fence stairs of the small farms come,
Slipping through cries flung up into the night,
And settling, ah, between them, shifting wings,
Light down at last in bare and snowy fields.

The drunken father has pulled the boy inside.
The boy breaks free, turns, leaves the house.
He spends that night out eating with the geese
Where, alert and balancing on wide feet,
Crossing rows, they walk through broken stalks.

Biographical Notes

Birth: December 23, 1926, Madison, Minnesota

Poet, author, and editor, Robert Elwood Bly attended St. Olaf College from 1946-47, earned a B.A. from Harvard University in 1950, and a M.A. from University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1956. He studied in Norway on a Fulbright grant from 1956-57 and was an Amy Lowell fellow from 1964-65, a Guggenheim fellow from 1965-66 and 1972-73, and a Rockefeller Foundation fellow for 1967. Bly has written several books of poetry, including The Light around the Body (1967), which received the National Book Award in poetry for 1968, and This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years (1979). He edited A Poetry Reading against the Vietnam War (1966) and News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness (1980). Bly has also translated and published numerous works by Swedish, Norwegian, German, and Spanish poets. He helped organize Minnesota Writers' Publishing House, 1970, a cooperative that published works by Minnesota poets from 1973 on. Bly was the editor, publisher, and co-founder of Fifties (later Sixties and Seventies) magazine, a poetry journal published by Seventies Press, Odin House, starting in 1958. Bly was married to author Carolyn McLean Bly, but they later divorced. Bly is remarried and lives in Minnesota.

Bly has won several awards for his writing including the National Book Award (1968) for The Light Around the Body (1967), the McKnight Distinguished Artist award in 2000, and the Minnesota Book Awards Humanities Prize for Literature (2006). Bly was named Minnesota’s first Poet Laureate in 2008.

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

Eating the Honey of Words
4 Broadsides by Minnesota Authors
Iron John: A Book about Men
The Light around the Body: Poems
Loving a Woman in Two Worlds
The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine
A Private Fall
The Sibling Society
Silence in the Snowy Fields: Poems
Sleepers Joining Hands
This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author - Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society’s library
Growing up in Minnesota: Ten Writers Remember Their Childhoods edited by Chester G. Anderson
Northern Lights Episode #64
A Poetry Reading against the Vietnam War collection gathered by Robert Bly and David Ray
Robert Bly: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography by William H. Roberson

Web Links

Robert Bly - Official Robert Bly website
Robert Bly Revealed - University of Minnesota Robert Bly online exhibit
Robert Bly Papers - University of Minnesota Robert Bly collection
Interview: Robert Bly - Interview transcript from the PBS television program, No Safe Place
Robert Bly - Biography and bibliography from poetryfoundation.org
Modern American Poetry - University of Illinois website with biography and writings on Robert Bly
Poets.org - Biography and audio
Robert Bly: The Dude Abides - 2003 article about Robert Bly and the men’s movement

See More